Against the backdrop of air crashes involving MiG fighters, Government today said it was planning to phase-out the majority of the Russian-origin jets from the Indian Air Force by 2017 and replace them with modern aircraft.
Defence Minister A K Antony told Rajya Sabha that a number of modern aircraft such as the Su-30 MKI, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and the Medium-Multirole Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA) would be procured to replace the squadrons of MiG 21s and MiG 23s.
The Air force have got a "clear-cut plan" to phase out these aircraft by 2017 and by the same time the induction of new aircraft like Sukhoi-30 MKI and, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) will begin, Antony said while replying to a member's query on flight safety during Question Hour.
The Minister said the initial operational clearance for LCA has already been "successfully conducted" and it will be inducted in the Air Force "very soon".
On the proposal to procure 126 M-MRCA, Antony assured the members that the induction plan for the project was not lagging behind and will not take time up to 2020 to introduce these aircrafts in the IAF. He said that large scale acquisition of Sukhoi-30 MKI, LCA and the MMRCA will take place within the next few years and acknowledged that such an exercise could not take place in past due to "historical reasons".
The Defence Minister sought to allay apprehensions that the quality of aircraft spare parts being supplied to the country has deteriorated after the break-up of Soviet Union and that it could be a reason for the aircraft accidents. He said "quality is all right" and there was no complaint regarding it by and large but admitted that after the disintegration of Soviet Union, there are "some slippages in delivery" of the spare parts as companies manufacturing the products shifted bases. Antony said the government is trying to handle the problems related to time schedule of deliveries of spare parts. A statement was also laid in the House in which the ministry gave details of aircraft accidents in response to a question by Congress member T M Selvaganapath.
The statement said 12 accidents of IAF aircrafts took place during the last year in which 5 pilots, 11 service personnel and four civilians were killed while one such incident took place till February 18 in which no casualty was reported.